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Portugal made pre-race headlines in the triathlon world with Vanessa Fernandes’s comeback but post-race focus will be centered around Joao Silva after he broke through for his first ever victory in the Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Series.
Amidst the intense heat in Yokohama, Silva didn’t wilt but instead rose to the occasion and to the top of the podium.
“This course suits me better than Beijing; I like it hot. I was a little disappointed after Beijing and I haven’t been back home for a long time, so it’s a great end to the season and I am really happy,” said Silva. “I have to thank all the people from Yokohama for holding such a great race and also supporting the athletes along all the kilometres.”
A full field of 65 men dove into the warm waters of Yokohama Bay for the 2-lap non-wetsuit swim. Polyansky led a 1-2-3-4 Russian lead out of the swim, followed closely by Silva.
Out onto the flat and technical 40km bike course, a massive group of approximately 50 men came together. With no major breakaways, the pack stayed intact throughout the eight laps.
A pair of triathlon legends—Simon Whitfield and Chris McCormack—led the men into T2. But it was Japan’s Yuichi Hosoda delighted the crowd as he shot out of transition and hit the 10km run course first with Whitfield and Docherty just behind him. Others out of T2 amongst the leaders were Ruedi Wild (SUI), Matt Chrabot (USA), and Aussies Brendan Sexton and McCormack.
Hosoda attacked hard early, fuelled by the desire to secure an Olympic spot that was at stake with a top-8 finish. But the Asian Games gold medallist could not maintain the lead, especially with Silva bearing down on him. Silva was in 12th position at the start of the run but by the end of the first lap, he had overtaken Hosoda and opened up a lead of almost ten seconds.
Laying down a blistering pace that matched the weather, Silva extended the gap over the next two laps, while the battle for silver and bronze heated up behind him between Russian teammates Bryukhankov and Polyansky. Bryukhankov was digging into Silva’s lead and for a moment looked like he might reel him in. But Silva did not back down and broke the tape at 1 hour, 49 minutes, 21 seconds to secure the biggest victory of his career. He blitzed the 10km run, hammering out a 30:14 split on a course that was measured accurately at ten kilometres.
Bryukhankov joined Silva as the only other man to run sub-30:30 to finish second, his third WCS silver of the year. Polyansky came across for the bronze, his second career podium at a Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Series event.
“I feel really happy with the race because it’s the second podium for me in the series. Last week in Beijing I was in fourth place when it was a good condition for me, but here it’s not so good because I come from Siberia where it’s really cold,” said Polyansky. “The first lap was hard as it was so hot, the last two laps I had a really good run. I gave all my power to complete the race.”
Double Olympic medallist Whitfield came back strong on the run to finish in fourth place; his best ever result in a Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Series event. Chrabot rounded out the top-5 with his season-best showing.
Hosoda stepped up to the challenge to secure a top-8 and Olympic spot but fell just short, finishing in 10th place, by far the best of WCS result of his career. He was the first Japanese man across the finish line, followed by Hiroki Sugimoto in 12th place.